In any home where fuel is burned for heating, cooking or running equipment like generators or spot heaters, harmful exhaust gases are common, especially carbon monoxide (CO). The possibility of exposure to carbon monoxide is always present, and is a particular danger if your furnace or ventilation system malfunctions and starts leaking CO into your living areas. To keep yourself and your family safe, be aware of carbon monoxide symptoms and know what to do if you suspect a CO leak anywhere in your home.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless and colorless gas that is produced as a by-product of combustion of fuel in devices such as furnaces, gas cooking stoves, automobiles and fireplaces. By the time you realize that you may have been exposed to CO, damage to your health has already occurred. In the worst cases, carbon monoxide can kill, especially if the leak happens when a home's residents are asleep.
The harmful effects of carbon monoxide occur because it interferes with the blood's ability to carry oxygen to your body, especially your vital organs and brain. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:
After three hours of exposure to moderate levels of carbon monoxide, it becomes life-threatening. Higher levels of CO can be life threatening within minutes. Even low levels of exposure can manifest unexplained flu-like symptoms—especially for younger or older people.
If anyone in your family exhibits these symptoms, you should immediately leave your home and go to an area with fresh air. Seek medical attention for anyone who has been exposed. Contact your fire department and tell them you suspect a carbon monoxide leak, then contact your local trusted HVAC provider for assistance with locating and repairing the leak. If you suspect CO exposure, act quickly; delays could be fatal.
To increase protection for your family, install carbon monoxide detectors outside every bedroom and at each end of your home. Put an additional detector over any attached room or garage. It is very common for fumes in the garage to leak into the room above. Test the detectors at least monthly and change the batteries at least annually. The detectors that you will find at home centers, hardware stores and other similar retail locations are designed to respond to moderate levels of CO. To protect your family from long term exposure at lower levels, ask your professional HVAC provider about a Low Level CO monitor.
P.K. Wadsworth Heating & Cooling Inc. has been one of Greater Cleveland's premier sources of HVAC sales, maintenance and repair for more than 75 years. Contact us today for more information on carbon monoxide symptoms and for access to carbon monoxide detectors that can help keep your family safe and secure.
Paul Wadsworth is the President and Owner of P.K. Wadsworth Heating and Cooling. For 37 years, Paul has been providing heating and cooling services to the Greater Cleveland area. P.K. Wadsworth has been a trusted Cleveland HVAC service company for 75 years. The company understand the area's construction and local heating and air conditioning needs. Paul has an MBA from the University of Michigan and a B.S., Industrial Engineering from Purdue University. He's been President of the Cleveland Air Conditioning Contractors of America and a founding member of the local chapter. Paul was born and raised in Cleveland and has been active in the local community. He resides in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and two sons.
The opinions and statements contained in this article are for general informational purposes only and are not instructions. Only trained, licensed and experienced personnel should attempt installation/repair. The author assumes no liability for the opinions/statements made in this article. Any individual attempting a repair or installation based on this article does so at their own risk of loss.